Opinion: Humility and kindness
Imagine you are standing on a city street. A bus approaches and passes you from left to right.
Another person is on the opposite side of the street. The same bus comes up to them and goes from right to left.
It’s the same bus going in the same direction but you see it from left to right and the other person sees it differently.
Einstein used this illustration to explain his theory of relativity. But could it also help us understand the political divide in our country? Our understanding of the facts that are told to us is strongly influenced by our political and personal perspective, by our life experiences and circumstances.
Early on Saturday evening, I telephoned a woman from Shelby for 30 minutes who disagreed with my opinion, which was published in The Gaston Gazette and Shelby Star last Wednesday.
She wasn’t rude. She didn’t use obscene language. But she passionately believes the November election was rigged, and President Trump is the duly elected President of the United States. I never could and never tried to change her mind.
I tried to reflect the courtesy and sincerity that came through on her side of the conversation.
How many times in your life have you had these thoughts or uttered these words: “I really like this person. Are you so arrogant and mean? “
Perhaps there are some who believe that it is okay to display these human qualities. But not for me. I am not guessing for you.
In Mark 5: 3, Jesus offers the first of the “Beatitudes.” Beatitudes are blessings. They describe a way of life. The first is this famous verse: “Blessed are the poor in spirit for them in the kingdom of heaven.”
Poor in spirit means humility. It is the humble who come closer to God.
Every day I pray for two things: humility and kindness. My 54 year marriage has shown some degree of success. My wife, who does her assigned job, often reminds me of my shortcomings, partly because she thinks I know more than maybe I do. She even gave a name tag that said, “Hello, my name is Know it All.”
To please her, I try to do better. I know that humility leads to kindness and kindness leads to generosity and generosity leads to love.
In my life I know great people who have been humble and kind. Among them was President George HW Bush. Although he led a life of success, he did not put his personal interests above others or above the country he served with dignity and competence.
From the side of the street, I see America’s bus quickly stray from decency, respect for others, kindness, generosity and love.
I see it in the direction of arrogance and hostility, even hating those with a different perspective. You can’t make America great again like this. Attitudes of distrust and hatred diminish us. They make us less than we can be.
My suggestion is that we all try to live humble lives that put the interests of our neighbors before our own. The same person who delivered the Beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount later left us a great command: “That you love one another” (John 15:12)
Life is short and precious. As the past year taught us so well, it is also fragile. I like to live it with humility and kindness. I think we should try. See where it’s taking us. If you disagree, my number will be in the book.
Michael McMahan lives in Gastonia.